When corporations rule the world
is there a way out then?
by David Korten
Educate magazine, Issue3/volume
Human persons who behave in a similarly self-centered and destructive
way [as corporations] devoid of conscience, are called pychopaths
and are commonly deprived of their freedom as threats to society
and confined to prisons or mental institutions.
Corporate officers suspected of sacrificing share price to acts
of conscience out of concern for workers, community, or the environment,
face a serious threat of dismissal.
The reality is we are dealing with global or transnational corporations,
which means corporations that do not recognize any national or
local interest or obligation.
The publicly traded, limited liability corporation is in the legal
sense not a human institution. It is a pool of money, dedicated
to the sole vocation of making money, on which a corrupted legal
system has bestowed special legal privileges and protections not
granted to real living persons.
We presently live under two competing system of (global governance:
The Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations. The former
is primarily aligned with the corporate interest and the latter
is primarily aligned with the human and natural interest.
The Bretton Woods institutions - the World
Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade
Organization (WTO), previously the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) - are major institutional players in rewriting
the rules of the global economy to circumvent democracy to rewrite
the economic rules to favor the concentration of wealth and power.
All three claim to be dedicated to the
cause of the poor and the disadvantaged. But look at their policies
and actions and you find the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO
consider the ideal country to be one in which all assets and resources
are owned by foreign corporations producing for export to generate
foreign exchange to repay international debts. Their favored country
has no public services. Power, water, education, health care,
social security, and financial services are all owned and operated
by foreign corporations for profit on a fee for service basis.
Food and other goods for domestic consumption are all imported
from abroad and paid for with money borrowed from foreign banks.
In the United States corporations have extracted so main tax concessions
from local governments that local governments have increasing
difficulty funding public schools. Then corporations step in to
help out by offering the schools money in return for exclusive
marketing contracts that allow them to promote and sell Coca Cola
and other junk foods in schools that are desperate for any source
of additional income. The corporations also step in with "gifts"
of teaching materials that present a corporate friendly view on
environmental and economic issues. Most are thinly disguised combination
of political propaganda and advertising aimed at indoctrination
and building brand loyalty.
Although some 50 percent of Americans own some stock, the richest
1 percent of households own nearly 50 percent of the value of
all stocks owned by Americans. Globally the ownership of stocks
is far more concentrated. Surely less than 1 percent of all households
in the world participate in stock ownership in any consequential
... civil society tells the story of a world in deepening crisis
of such magnitude as to threaten the fabric of civilization and
the survival of the species a world of rapidly growing inequality,
erosion of relationships of trust and caring, and a failing planetary
life support system.
Where corporate globalists tell of the
spread of democracy and vibrant market economies, civil society
tells of the power to govern shifting away from people and communities
to financial speculators and global corporations dedicated to
the blind pursuit of short-term profit in disregard of human and
Civil society sees corporations replacing
democracies of people with democracies of money, self-organizing
markets with centrally planned corporate economies, and spiritually
grounded ethical cultures with cultures of greed and materialism.
In the eyes of civil society the corporate
global economy is a suicide economy that is destroying the foundations
of its own survival and the survival of the species. They see
a corrupt political process awash in corporate money and beholden
to corporate interests rewriting our laws to provide corporations
with massive public subsidies while eliminating the regulations
and borders that hold corporations accountable to some larger
public interest. They see the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade
Organization as leading agents of this assault against life.
The human future depends on a deep economic transformation aimed
at ridding human society of the pathology of the global, publicly
traded, limited liability corporation.